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Local Natives — Hummingbird (2013)

 Local Natives — Hummingbird (2013)

Local Natives — Hummingbird 
Location: Silver Lake, Los Angeles, California
Album release: January 29, 2013
Record Label: Frenchkiss (U.S.), Infectious Music (U.K./International)
Duration:     44:05
01. You & I     (4:21)
02. Heavy Feet     (4:07)
03. Ceilings     (2:56)
04. Black Spot     (4:41)
05. Breakers     (4:09)
06. Three Months     (4:30)
07. Black Balloons     (3:08)
08. Wooly Mammoth     (3:27)
09. Mt. Washington     (3:19)
10. Colombia     (4:50)
11. Bowery     (4:37)
Taylor Rice - guitar, vocals, bass
Kelcey Ayer - vocals, keyboards, percussion, guitar
Ryan Hahn - guitar, keyboards, mandolin, vocals
Matt Frazier - drums
Genre: indie, rock, alternative
Website: http://www.thelocalnatives.com/
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/localnatives
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/localnatives
Press contact: North America: jen@pressherepublicity.com ///// Ex-North America: Iancheek@talk21.com
Reservé agent: North America: jnalpant@paradigmagency.com Europe, et al: david@codaagency.com 
Description: Leur précédent album Gorilla Manor avait été justement apprécié pour la qualité des mélodies et des harmonies vocales. Le groupe californien récidive avec ce second album en diversifiant un peu ses influences musicales. Recommandé.
¶  Local Natives (previously known as Cavil at Rest) are an indie rock band based in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, USA. Their debut album, Gorilla Manor, was first released in the UK in November 2009, and later released in the US on February 16, 2010. The album received mostly positive reviews and debuted in the Billboard 200 and at No. 3 in the New Artist Chart. The Local Natives were at many times mentioned to be a "band with magical powers."
¶  Their sound has been described as "afropop-influenced guitars with hyperactive drumming and hooky three-part harmonies". Clash Music has also described their style as psych folk, or modern worldly folk.
¶  The band came together in Orange County, where Kelcey Ayer, Ryan Hahn, and Taylor Rice attended Tesoro High School. One year after graduating college at UCLA, they were joined by bassist Andy Hamm and drummer Matt Frazier. In December 2008, they all moved to a house in Silver Lake and started work on their debut album.
¶  The self-funded Gorilla Manor was recorded by Raymond Richards in his own Red Rockets Glare Studio, in West Los Angeles, and was produced by Richards and the band.
¶  Everything the band creates comes from a complete collaboration between their members, from songwriting to artwork. Their debut album, Gorilla Manor, was named after the house they all shared in Orange County, where most of the album was written. “It was insanely messy and there were always friends over knocking around on guitars or our thrift store piano,” said Hahn. “It was an incredible experience and I’ll never forget that time.”
¶  The band started to attract the attention of the music press after playing nine shows at the 2009 SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, where initial reviews drew favorable comparisons to Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, and Vampire Weekend, as well as "sort of a West Coast Grizzly Bear."
¶  In 2011, they embarked on a European tour, served as opening act for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and made their debut in Australia at St Jerome's Laneway Festival.
¶  It was announced March 18, 2011 that the band had parted ways with bassist Andy Hamm.
January 24th, 2013  Dayton O'Connor (Score: 6.5/10)
¶  The Los Angeles based indie rock outfit Local Natives made a big splash in 2010 with their debut long player Gorilla Manor. And for good reason. It has those gorgeous vocal harmonies. Can’t forget to mention the swelling choruses. Oh, and the always insistent rhythm section. But parsing the attributes of that album doesn’t really do justice to how enjoyable an experience it is to listen to. Instead, consider its longevity: released stateside in dreary February, Gorilla Manor had the legs to soundtrack many getaway drives through the end of summer and beyond.
¶  The only criticism you could lob at it was that it was a bit front loaded. Though that wasn’t for an overabundance of filler. The four songs that open the album, from “Wide Eyes” to “World News” were about as good an introductory suite as there was in indie rock circa 2010.
¶  But where Local Natives’ debut was ramshackle charm and good-natured vibes, Hummingbird is meditative and turned inward. Don’t worry, all the pieces are still there, from the frequent harmonizing to the great percussive work from Kelcey Ayer and Matt Frazier. They’re just being utilized in a somewhat different fashion.
¶  Not that you could guess that from the surfy chords that greet the listener at the beginning of album opener “You & I”. But a minute in and we can already hear how Hummingbird is a new kind affair for the young band. The song builds and swells to the gently melodic chorus instead of immediately cresting at the hook. Local Natives works to earn the big, anthemic moments on Hummingbird. It’s a sign of maturity. This is a band with a bigger bag of tricks, employing an expanded vocabulary of compositional techniques. At times the album reminds me A LOT of latter day The Walkmen.
¶  The downside is there’s nothing as immediate as “Sun Hands” and “Wide Eyes”. In fact, it’ll take listeners about sixteen minutes and four tracks to reach a moment that harkens back to those kinds of songs on Hummingbird. But the guitar squalls and uptempo hooks that lead off “Breakers” are well worth that wait.
¶  Indeed, Hummingbird saves some of its best moments for the back half of the album. “Columbia” finds the band opening up some vulnerabilities as singer Taylor Rice addresses a “Patricia” with lines like, “Every night I’ll ask myself/ Am I giving enough?/ Am I loving enough?” Album closer ”Bowery” starts out pretty and serene, reflecting on times fond times since passed. Then it makes a lot of noise before clashing and cooing to a close. Sounds like Local Natives went through some serious shit last time they were in New York City.
¶  The only creative choice on Hummingbird that raises any eyebrows is the mix and mastering. Many of the tracks on the album are pretty heavy on the reverb, and while there’s no song drowning in its own sound, there’s a quiet murk present that doesn’t do the album any favors. Listeners who appreciated the front and center sound and merits of Gorilla Manor will be left wanting.
¶  To sum up: Local Natives opted to tread the same sonic territory with essentially the same tools. Which is not to say it’s a rehash. The songwriting on display here is more developed, more nuanced than on Gorilla Manor. Hummingbird could do with a bit more diversity in its songs, some more immediate pleasures to go along with the growers and slow burners. But it’s a followup that allows Local Natives to skirt the curse of the sophomore slump relatively unscathed.
Fortaken: http://www.underthegunreview.net
Gorilla Manor - (2009) U.S. No. 160
Hummingbird - (2013)
Sun Hands - (2009)
Camera Talk - (2009)
Airplanes - (2010)
Wide Eyes - (2010)
Who Knows Who Cares - (2010)
World News - (2010)
Breakers - (2012)
Heavy Feet - (2013)
Review by Elaine Buckley | 11:06 | Friday 25th January 2013 |
Rating: ***½
Arriving off the back of well-received introductory singles 'Sun Hands', 'Camera Talk' and the stellar 'Airplanes' It was somewhat of a foregone conclusion that Gorilla Manor, the debut album from Californian five-piece Local Natives, was going to be a hit when it was released in late 2009. The gamble of a self-funded album paid unyielding dividends, launching the band onto the global stage with impressive sales, TV appearances, sell-out headline shows, and tours alongside musical juggernauts Arcade Fire and The National. When their time on the road with Gorilla Manor wound up, Local Natives returned to their homestead of Silverlake and converted an abandoned house into a live-in rehearsal studio to facilitate the crafting of the follow-up - minus a bassist, as Andy Hamm parted ways with his bandmates. Once the creative hard graft was completed Local Natives decamped first to Montréal and then to Brooklyn to lay down their efforts - the influences of their touring buddies not just permeating their recording location choices, but also their production, with The National's Aaron Dessner at the helm. The end result is Hummingbird, released today via Infectious Records.
Inspired by “the emotional framework of being stretched between two opposite poles”, thematically Hummingbird is somewhat dark, with lyrical explorations of the price of fame and how success can come at the expense of personal relationships. Lead single 'Breakers' paved the way, released in late November to reintroduce the band to the scene - with its busy instrumentation and multi-layered harmonies, spearheaded by twanged guitar riffs, it's textbook Local Natives and heralded a welcome return. Another preview track, 'Heavy Feet', followed - a more subdued affair, percussion at the forefront, albeit somewhat derivative of 'Bloodbuzz Ohio'... In fact imprints of others can by subtly felt throughout Hummingbird - for example, one could be forgiven for thinking they'd mistakenly skipped onto Bon Iver's self-titled second album upon hearing the intro to 'Black Balloons' - but as much as Local Natives may wear their influences proudly and loudly, it comes down to inspiration over imitation.
Album opener 'You & I' possesses the warm intrigue of familiarity whilst offering interesting new rhythmic patterns, a potential single-in-waiting, with Taylor Rice's falsetto soaring free from the usual barrage of harmony. The song affords an all-new appreciation for Rice's individual vocal prowess, which is experienced again with the delicate 'Three Months', and in particular on the slow-burning soliloquy of grief 'Columbia'. In contrast, 'Ceilings' is all the better for the back-up, Rice beautifully aided by the fleshed-out vocal layers throughout. Experimenting with instrumentation, 'Black Spot' could have backfired drastically - but thankfully it's more heavily-populated than over-crowded; whilst the frantic beginnings of 'Woolly Mammoth' segway into a monumental wall-of-sound - anthemic to the core, it's the kind of track that can instantly be envisioned mesmerising the masses in a live setting.
Those seeking a repeat of the instantly catchy Gorilla Manor are likely to be disappointed by Hummingbird - Local Natives quite literally 'hooked' us in with that dazzlingly harmonic smart indie-rock debut, but things are different this time around. Disparaging as this evaluation may seem, the opposite is intended - the band have embraced change and branched out, and just as their musical approach has deviated, naturally so too has the music. Hummingbird provides an opportunity to get to know the inner workings of a more mature Local Natives, and it is one that should be seized.Entertainment.ie

File:Localnatives sxsw2010.JPG © Local Natives performing at Galaxy Room during SXSW on March 20th, 2010 on Sixth Street in Austin, Texas/Author: Lesheifner Les Heifner

Local Natives — Hummingbird (2013)